|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #92, 93 and 94|
22 August, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Over the course of our present series of Bible Studies, we have been observing how the Great Plan of Almighty God for the restoration of His creation has been outlined in the Book of Genesis and to this point in the first part of the Book of Exodus. We are presently following the sequence of events through which The God of Israel is forcing the Pharaoh of Egypt to release God's people, the Tribes of Israel, from bondage and to allow them to emerge from that condition in the event which history has recorded as The Exodus.
We had watched in our recent talks as God's signs and wonders upon Egypt had followed, one upon another beginning with the turning of Moses' rod into a serpent before Pharaoh, and then passing through the turning of the Nile waters into blood, the emergence of a plague of frogs, then later the plague of gnats, and following those, a plague of flies and other insects throughout Egypt. Next had come the murrain upon the cattle in the fields of Egypt, and, in order to distinguish Israel from the Egyptians, those cattle belonging to the Israelites had been spared from this plague.
As we studied these plagues, we had begun to see that each, in turn, had been created by turning one or more of the gods of Pharaoh's Egypt into a curse against its worshippers. Each of these gods, in turn, had become the basis of a curse by Almighty God in order to demonstrate that these held no power whatsoever to protect those who trusted in them.
Now we have come to the sixth plague, which is the seventh sign or wonder in the list, and I have been attempting to clarify this sequence by means of a table containing ten columns, and today we will be filling in the seventh line of that table. Those ten columns were headed as follows:
1. Sign or Wonder, 2. Month of Natural Prominence, 3. Biblical Reference, 4. Warning If Any, 5. Place of Warning, 6. Egyptian god Over-ruled, 7. Magicians' Response, 8. Pharaoh's Response, 9. Equivalent Israelite Tribal Symbol, 10. Israelite Tribe.
Let us read today's portion of scripture beginning at Exodus 9:8.
8. And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.
9. And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.
10. And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.
11. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.
12. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
13. And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
A number of comments might be added at this point. As we studied, in turn, each of those previous signs and wonders which God had brought upon Egypt, we noted that, in each case, a specific Tribal emblem of one of the Tribes of Israel was somehow capable of being contrasted to the Egyptian plague. When we examine the peculiar combination of aspects which comprised this particular plague, however; the taking of handfuls of ashes from the furnace, the sprinkling towards heaven, and the resultant development of boils and blains such that the magicians could not stand before Moses, and then survey the remaining tribal insignia of Israel in order to find one to match, we may, at first, be slightly puzzled in our search to find one which will counter-point this peculiar combination of characteristics. There is one which fits quite well, but to determine this, we must consider the matter carefully.
The source of the ashes which were used as the symbolic conveyance of the plague of boils is not uniformly agreed. Keil and Delitzsch state, on the basis of a study of the Hebrew, that these ashes would be of a smelting-furnace or lime-kiln. They thus dispute the view given in the Companion Bible, which is to the effect that these ashes might have been from one of the altars on which human sacrifices were sometimes offered to propitiate the Egyptian god Tiphon, (Osiris' wicked brother, who finally became the incarnation of the spirit of evil, in eternal opposition to the spirit of good). If these ashes were from a smelting-furnace, this plague might symbolise the corruption of the metallic sources of Pharaoh's wealth and military strength.
The flinging of this ash towards heaven was, it seems, not only a means of spreading the plague rapidly, but also indicative of the heavenly direction from which the resultant plague settled upon the people of the land. The pestilence was, in its result, to become a weapon to drive the magicians or priests of Egypt from Moses' presence. Its nature is taken, by several commentaries, to have been some form of anthrax carried by flies from decaying vegetation, fish and frogs.
Whichever was the source of those ashes, the kiln or the altar, we will find that there is a particularly appropriate counter-point with one of the deities, or to be more specific, a certain goddess of Egypt, who was, among other things, associated with fire, as we shall see. Let us now fill in the seventh line in our expanding summary table of the Signs and Wonders placed before Pharaoh.
The sign or wonder in the left hand column is Ashes of the Furnace becoming boils. It is the seventh in our series of signs, and the sixth plague. The month might be the one following the last plague, and thus December or January. This is consistent with the supposed origin of this plague in a form of anthrax, as the New Bible Dictionary explains under the item "Plagues Of Egypt". Moreover, as I shall further explain in a moment, there would have been at that season of the year a specific date which would have been a most significant one to the Egyptians if the goddess I have in mind was the one which The Almighty God had selected for attention on this occasion.
Our Biblical reference is Exodus 9:8-12. No warning was given of this plague, but it was done "in sight of Pharaoh", and obviously, the magicians were present as the record states that they "could not stand before Moses."
Now we come to the selection of an Egyptian deity appropriate to match the events. As this plague was of ash becoming boils, I believe that the Egyptian deity which was demeaned in this case had to be the goddess called Sechmet or Sekhmet. Time Magazine of October 17, 1977 had a page devoted to her, with a photograph of her image. This was, according to that magazine article, the goddess of fire, war and pestilence. Now the curious thing is that this goddess is always represented as a lion-headed goddess. I should like to quote a passage from "Egyptian Mythology," by Paul Hamlyn Limited. It states:
"Sekhmet (rendered in Greek as Sakhmis) is the name of the terrible goddess of war and battle who is usually represented as a lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness.
"Her name, which means `the Powerful', is simply a title of Hathor which was given to Hathor on the occasion when in the form of a lioness she hurled herself on the men who had rebelled against Ra. ...she attacked them with such fury that the sun-god, fearing the extermination of the human race, begged her to arrest the carnage. `By thy life', she answered him, `when I slay men my heart rejoices', and she refused to spare her victims."
That Mythology continues with the explanation that, in order to save what remained of the human race, Ra had a potent juice of beer and pomegranate juice prepared which Sekhmet drank, thinking it to be blood. Annually, on the feast day of Hathor, as many jugs of this brew were prepared as there were priestesses of the sun. The day of the massacre was the twelfth day of the first month of winter. Perhaps this was the date of Moses' confrontation with Pharaoh and the priests. If so, it would certainly be most appropriate.
The magicians' response was to flee from Moses' presence, in the same way as other animals flee from the lion, the "King of beasts." That would form a suitable counter-point to the mythological warfare of the goddess Sekhmet. Pharaoh's response was still unyielding. He would not let Israel go. If we have correctly identified the Egyptian deity appropriate to the circumstances, then the equivalent Israelite tribal symbol, in this case would have to be the Lion of Judah, the Royal, sceptre tribe in Israel.
It might be noteworthy to remember that the goddess Sekhmet with the head of a lion, she whom Egyptian mythology held to be a blood-thirsty killer of men, was a goddess of fire, war and pestilence, for if we thus counter-point that deity against the tribal insignia of Judah, the Israelite Tribe of which the ensign was the Lion, we will have selected that tribe of Israel, proficient in war, which was the one selected by the LORD to be the first to go up against the Canaanites, as stated in Judges 1:1-2.
That passage reads "Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand."
We, of the British-Israel-World Federation see our Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples today, with their heraldic symbol of the lion, as descendants of those same Israelite tribes, and that fact makes the circumstances of this sixth plague instructive to us because we, today, appear to be passing through the stages of an equivalent withdrawal from the modern system of spiritual Egypt and Babylon to their Exodus from ancient Egypt. As our time has about expired for today, we shall continue these studies on our next programme.
29 August, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
In this present series of Bible Studies, we have been following the account of the Great Plan whereby Almighty God is preparing to lead His people, His holy nation of Israel, out of their Egyptian bondage experience. Israel is to form the nucleus of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, functioning under the Kingship and administration of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are the literal descendants of those same Israelites who passed through all the pressures of bondage in Pharaoh's Egypt, and who emerged as a free nation through the Exodus experience in the days of Moses. I believe that we, today, are presently in the process of passing through a parallel pattern of events. The new form of the bondage is one of economics, politics and a "politically correct" religious amalgam. This has been imposed by a new type of Pharaoh of our own time. We are, I believe, fulfilling a pattern of events, of which the experience of Israel of old time formed the prophetically enacted dramatic preview.
Today, we have come to the study of the eighth of thirteen mighty signs and wonders through which The Almighty God forced Pharaoh to release His people. This is commonly known as the Seventh Plague, and we shall find it described in today's Bible passage, taken from Exodus 9:13-35. I shall read it with additional comments where I believe these will assist in clarification.
13. And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
14. For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.
15. For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.
16. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
17. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?
Several commentaries make reference to Paul's words in Romans 9:17 which quote verse 16 of this passage. Once again, as we read the demand of The Almighty God, let us keep in mind why Pharaoh is being ordered to let God's people go. Remember that, as the severity of these plagues increases, it is because Pharaoh and his task masters have been continuing to force the Israelites to make those mud bricks to build Pharaoh's treasure cities. They further insist upon this without even providing the necessary straw.
Today, that equates to binding God's people to the use of a corrupt debt-money system, forcing them to make totally futile attempts to repay debts and debt interest to our modern Pharaohs in order to build their treasure cities without even allowing them to draw upon a debt-free source from which to make up the interest on the loans. Let us continue at verse 18:
18. Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.
19. Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.
20. He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:
21. And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.
This is significant. Egyptians who feared the God of Israel would escape the plague, along with God's people.
22. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.
23. And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
24. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.
The Companion Bible indicates that the word, "mingled" means "catching hold of itself like a chain". Keil and Delitzsch suggest "The lightning took the form of balls of fire, which came down like burning torches."
25. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.
26. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.
27. And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.
28. Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.
Keil and Delitzsch draw attention to the words "this time" as a limitation which "showed that his repentance did not go very deep, and that his confession was far more the effect of terror caused by the majesty of God, which was manifested in the fearful thunder and lightning, than a genuine acknowledgment of his guilt."
29. And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD'S.
30. But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God.
31. And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.
32. But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.
Keil and Delitzsch point out that loss of the barley crop would hit the poor especially hard, while the flax was a very important part of the produce of Egypt.
33. And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth.
34. And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.
35. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.
The equivalent passage in the non-Biblical Book of Jasher states, in Chapter LXXX:30-32: "And the Lord sent a very heavy hail, which smote their vines and broke their fruit trees and dried them up that they fell upon them. Also every green herb became dry and perished, for a mingling fire descended amidst the hail, therefore the hail and the fire consumed all things. Also men and beasts that were found abroad perished of the flames of fire and of the hail... ."
We have been filling in a study-table with ten columns and each line below those headings is devoted to the details concerning one sign or plague. The headings are: 1. Sign or Wonder, 2. Month of Natural Prominence, 3. Biblical Reference, 4. Warning If Any, 5. Place of Warning, 6. Egyptian god Over-ruled, 7. Magicians' Response, 8. Pharaoh's Response, 9. Equivalent Israelite Tribal Symbol, 10. Israelite Tribe.
The sign is number 8, and the plague number 7, being hail mingled with fire. The probable month is January or, as the New Bible Dictionary, Item "Plagues Of Egypt" places it, "early February" as "This ruined... the barley and flax, but not the wheat and spelt, which were not yet grown up." Our reference is Exodus 9:13-35. A warning was given in the morning, and the place was "before Pharaoh."
The demeaned Egyptian god might, in this instance, possibly be Min. "Egyptian Mythology", prepared by Paul Hamlyn Limited, speaks of Min as "a very ancient god whose totem, a thunderbolt apparently, appeared at the top of old prehistoric standards... Min was... chiefly worshipped as god of the roads and protector of travellers in the desert. The principal centre of his cult was Coptos, a point of departure for trading expeditions. Their leaders, before risking themselves in the deserts, never failed to invoke the great local god Min, god of the eastern desert and `Lord of Foreign Lands'."
However at verse 18, The Companion Bible states that this Plague was directed against Isis and Osiris. The results of this plague probably did little to enhance the reputation of Osiris, god of the dead, of resurrection and of fertility, whose earlier reputation was that of influencing, or controlling natural phenomena, or of his wife, the goddess Isis, "mother of all things."
Pharaoh's response was "I have sinned", but how truthful was his statement? We can surely state that his heart was not in it!
As we now seek among the banners of the remaining tribes of Israel for one which might display some design counter-pointing those stones and fire, we find that the Tribe of Levi was to enjoy a special insignia which does so. The design of their ensign was to reflect the pattern of the High Priest's breastplate which consisted of twelve sparkling precious stones, and the contained "urim and thummim" (Exodus 28:30). Urim means "lights", and the "urim and thummim" were to provide guidance by answering questions posed by Israel's leaders when they were not sure of the road they ought to take in affairs of state.
Certainly, the Egyptian equivalent was a furiously violent form of stones and lights; fire in the form, perhaps, of violent electrical storm accompanied by dangerously destructive hail, and thus the God of Israel separated and distinguished His people from their oppressors by this Seventh Plague.
We shall continue this series of Bible Studies on our next programme.
5 September, 1998
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
In our present series of Bible Studies, we have been following the Biblical account of the Great Plan whereby Almighty God is preparing to lead His people, His holy nation of Israel, out of their Egyptian bondage experience. Israel, free of the entanglements and bondage of their persecutors, is to form the nucleus of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, functioning eventually under the Kingship and administration of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are the literal descendants of those same Israelites and I believe that we, today, are presently in the process of passing through a parallel pattern of Exodus events out of economic, political and religious bondage, and that we are thus fulfilling a prophecy of which the Exodus of ancient time was a type.
Today, we have come to the study of the ninth of thirteen mighty signs and wonders through which The Almighty God forced Pharaoh to release His people. This is commonly known as the Eighth Plague, and we shall find it described in today's Bible passage, taken from Exodus 10:1-20. I shall read it with appropriate insertions by way of comment.
1. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
2. And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.
We should note that the reason that The Almighty God permitted the increasing hardening of Pharaoh's heart was in order to provide occasion to display this miraculous series of signs, such that the descendants of Israel in subsequent generations, (which include those of our own day), might through these events receive evidence of God's power, and thus have no excuse for dis-belief. At appropriate points in the unfolding history of His people, Almighty God will act to release them from their oppressive condition.
3. And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.
4. Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:
5. And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:
6. And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.
Can we, for a moment, pause and, in our imagination, read the faces of the Egyptian courtiers as Moses leaves the audience hall, and they are left to ponder his commanding authority? What their country has already experienced now convinces many that the gods of Egypt are displaying no power whatsoever, and that their Pharaoh's implacable policy is meeting the reality of Yahweh, the Mighty God of Israel. Pharaoh obviously sensed the general disturbance of thought among them as he heard the next words.
7. And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?
8. And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?
We hear one of the most stirring statements of Scripture as Moses now speaks his reply.
9. And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.
Pharaoh's reply demonstrates his temporising but his heart is still un-repentant as he speaks.
10. And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.
11. Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.
The New Bible Commentary explains that Pharaoh's words meant "May the Lord be with you as surely as I will let you go", indicating that neither would take place, and "evil is what you purpose." Pharaoh knew that by keeping the children, the men would have to return to bondage.
12. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.
13. And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.
14. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.
15. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.
The non-Biblical Book of Jasher indicates that four varieties of locust were involved and that the Egyptians tried to salt them for food, but with the later change in the wind even these were swept away from them. Keil and Delitzsch explain that the Hebrew for "go up" indicated a hostile invasion of the land. They add: "The fact that the wind blew a day and a night before bringing the locusts, showed that they came from a great distance, and therefore proved to the Egyptians that the omnipotence of Jehovah reached far beyond the borders of Egypt, and ruled over every land."
In light of my suggestion that we, today, are passing through a parallel Exodus, I find it interesting to read the words of Keil and Delitzsch, stating: "In its dreadful character, this Egyptian plague is a type of the plagues which will precede the last judgment, and forms the groundwork for the description in Rev. ix.3-10; just as Joel discerned in the plagues which burst upon Judah in his own day a presage of the day of the Lord (Joel i.15,ii.1), i.e. of the great day of judgment, which is advancing step by step in all the great judgments of history or rather of the conflict between the kingdom of God and the powers of this world... ."
16. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.
17. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.
18. And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.
19. And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.
20. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
The New Bible Commentary notes that following the removal of the locusts, "Egypt now depended entirely on the reserves in her granaries, instituted by Joseph, the Hebrew."
For the columns of our Study Table we have been using these headings: 1. Sign or Wonder, 2. Month of Natural Prominence, 3. Biblical Reference, 4. Warning If Any, 5. Place of Warning, 6. Egyptian god Over-ruled, 7. Magicians' Response, 8. Pharaoh's Response, 9. Equivalent Israelite Tribal Symbol, 10. Israelite Tribe.
Let us fill in the line for the ninth sign or wonder in our table. This is the eighth plague; that of locusts. Regarding the month, we find a useful entry in the New Bible Dictionary, Item "Plagues Of Egypt". It states: "The heavy precipitation in Ethiopia and the Sudan which led to the extraordinarily high Nile would also provide favourable conditions for a dense plague of locusts by about March..." Our Biblical reference is Exodus 10:1-20. Warning was given in Pharaoh's court.
As for the Egyptian deity concerned, The Companion Bible states "The eighth plague was directed against Serapis, who was supposed to protect the land from locusts. They came at Moses' bidding, and retired only at his bidding. Thus the impotence of Serapis was manifest." Pharaoh's reply was to allow only the men of Israel to leave. This was not acceptable to God.
We now ask ourselves which Israelite Tribal emblem most exactly stands contrasted to the locusts. The loss of food to locusts is most clearly counter-pointed against the Tribal banner of Asher. The emblem of the Tribe of Asher is generally shown as either an olive tree (Encyclopaedia Judaica, Article "Flag") or a covered cup or goblet as a secondary emblem. One reference adds to the tree a female figure. In either case, plentiful food is indicated. Asher's blessing was given thus by Jacob in Genesis 49:20: "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties." What a contrast is here drawn between yet another god of Egypt and a tribe in Israel! The locust plague upon Egypt and the powerless Egyptian god Serapis are here set against this Tribal emblem of the Tribe of Asher and Yahweh, the God of Israel.
We shall continue this series of studies on our next programme.
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